by TORI YOUNGBAUER A&E Feature Writer
Each year, the Clay Guild of the Cascades puts together the annual Wildfire Pottery showcase, in order to share their creative works with the public. The Clay Guild of The Cascades (CGC), is a nonprofit organization that formed in late 2004 and since then has been dedicated to supporting local artists and education. Artist Helen Bommarito has been the guild’s president for the past three years, and was there for the inception of the Wildfire Showcase.
“We came together out of a sense of community. We realized there were a lot of potters in the area and we wanted to share knowledge, ideas, help the local community through donations and simply get to know each other better. We thought it would be nice to do an annual showcase to show the local population what we do,” says Bommarito.
This year, we have asked some of the CGC artists to share their inspirations with us and talk about the work that they do.
Diana Popp: For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved to observe nature and create things. I earned a achelor of Science in wildlife biology and worked as a field biologist for several years. I’ve also taken too many art classes and workshops to count, and I enjoy sketching, painting and making pottery. I am drawn to making detailed impressions of native plants in clay to blur the lines between our outdoor and indoor lives. I also hope to create a long-lasting record of the native flora that make the Pacific Northwest unique, beautiful and ultimately worthy of our care.
Eleanor Murphey: My work is functional stoneware pottery, reminiscent of the early 20th century pottery. My techniques and designs are more
contemporary than that of the Arts and Crafts period yet still holding to the philosophy of an emphasis on utilitarian objects being beautiful as well as functional.
Dori Kite: I am mostly inspired by the process itself, as I enter an almost meditative state where time and thoughts of the daily grind go away and it’s just me and the medium. The inspiration for my specific work comes from almost everywhere: things I read, watch, see and have conversations about. Sleeping, driving and showering are all high times for new ideas, and when I get excited about something I write it down or sketch it so I will remember to try it. I am not trying to make any kind of political or spiritual statement with my work, I just enjoy making pottery and hope that somebody out there (besides myself) gets excited about it!
John Kinder: Inspiration for creating my ceramic art comes from the natural world around us and our everyday rituals. I use wood ash and glaze combinations
to create flowing drip patterns on functional work such as cups and bowls. This surface speaks of my connection to the many Cascade lakes, rivers and streams that I enjoy with family and friends. On platters and wall hangings, I use a porcelain slip and raw earth pigments to resemble the cracked earth of a dry lake bed or the desert out east. Using the natural surroundings as inspiration allows my work to evolve and be fresh like the changing of seasons.
Janet Matson: The natural world in Central Oregon inspires my ceramic art. Green, blue, brown, orange, rust and gold are everywhere in rock formations, vegetation, fields, sky and mountains. These colors and shapes are found in my pots. My interest in drawing and watercolor painting shows in my pottery. Carving and painting of plants appear on the pieces. The soft feel of clay with its many colors and textures connects me to the earth. I am captivated by the meditative process of creating ceramics.
Steve Provence & Laura Mitchell: The entire process, from making to finishing, inspires us.
Working with clay is both an honor and a joy. Often we work on a series of forms, repeating pots we have been making for years, exploring new ideas in form and decoration. There is always room to grow and change. This is why “making the same thing” is much more than just making the same thing. It is an opportunity for new growth and exploration.
Helen Bommarito: For me inspiration comes from many places, including life experience, other artists and other cultures, and from the clay itself. Life and clay: I love using everyday items that are made by hand. It’s a connection to humanity in this age where more and more things are made by machines. There’s a warmth to it that you just don’t get from a mechanically produced item. When I sit down to make a mug or a bowl my thoughts are with the person who will be using it and those thoughts help form the clay into what I hope will be an item of comfort for the user. Lately I’ve been revisiting a lot of paintings by masters, and as a result my most recent project is a series of sculptural pieces inspired by portraits of women in their own elements, by famous artists such as Goya, Modigliani, Gaugin, daVinci, Ukiyoe.
Michael & Michele Gwinup: We get a joy from knowing that we can take clay, this piece of the earth, and through our energy and the heat of the firing, transform it into an object that will last for years. It’s gratifying to know that over the years we’ve created pieces, even something as simple as a mug or a bowl, that have become a part of another’s daily life. The inspiration for our work comes largely from the Central Oregon landscape, most notably the Cascade Mountains surrounding the Bend area.
Peter Roussel: I find myself drawing upon the beautiful and diverse Central Oregon landscape for my inspiration.
James DeRosso: My work is inspired by the gestures and features of animals, and it is further enhanced by the textures and patterns created in
Nancy Dasen: I love the feel and the smell and the texture of clay. I’m enjoying incorporating elements of typography, and impressions of found industrial parts and pieces, and finding a finish to enhance them. I like the rust belt feeling of the iron oxide washes. I enjoy making lidded urns and vessels, not for functionality, but more for the mystery of what might be inside. Zombies, moose and aardvarks have appeared lately. I don’t usually plan out my projects with any exactitude, preferring to see what happens on any given day.
The 11th annual Wildfire pottery show and sale will be held on Saturday November 7 from 10am-5pm and Sunday November 8 from 10am-4pm. Free admission and parking Highland Elementary School (Old Kenwood School) 701 NW Newport Ave., Bend, Eleanor Murphey 541-420-5889, firstname.lastname@example.org